Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Martin Buser breezed through the tiny town of Takotna, Alaska, spending less than a minute Wednesday before jumping on his sled runners and snatching the lead.
Buser wasted no time as he headed out of the checkpoint, a town of a few dozen people known for giving Iditarod mushers the biggest welcome, and tempting them off the 1,100-mile trail with homemade pies and the soothing sounds of Merle Haggard playing on the stereo in the community center.
He chose to push on but other mushers – many of them the superstars of the sport – were pausing in Takotna, giving their teams a long rest at the checkpoint about 700 miles from the finish line in Nome.
At this point in the Iditarod, the actual leader is hard to figure. That’s because mushers are required to rest their teams for 24 hours. Many choose to meet the requirement in Takotna, but not Buser. He may be ahead on the trail but in actuality is hours behind Burmeister and the other leaders once the 24-hour break is factored in.
Magic in the playoffs
Tony Battie had 18 points and eight rebounds, and the Orlando Magic got a big boost from the bench to clinch a playoff spot with a 107-79 win over the Chicago Bulls in Orlando, Fla.
•Johnson, Smith lead Hawks past Jazz: Joe Johnson scored 31 points and Josh Smith had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help the Atlanta Hawks end Utah’s 12-game winning streak with a 100-93 victory over the Jazz at Atlanta.
•Wade does it again for Heat: At Miami, Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, including the game-sealing 3-pointer with 34 seconds left, and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Boston Celtics 107-99.
•Bryant leads Lakers past Rockets: Kobe Bryant scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, winning a contentious duel with Ron Artest, and the Los Angeles Lakers ended Houston’s 12-game, home-court winning streak with a 102-96 win over the Rockets in Houston.
•Nowitzki, Terry light up Blazers: At Portland, Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 10 rebounds and Jason Terry scored 24 points as Dallas beat the Blazers 93-89.
San Jose looks at A’s
San Jose City Council members want city officials to commission a poll to determine whether local residents would support a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics.
Councilwomen Nora Campos, Nancy Pyle and Rose Herrera say it would be the first step in a dialogue with the A’s and Major League Baseball about moving the team to San Jose. The A’s are barred from moving to San Jose because the Giants have territorial rights to the area.
•McNamee makes new claim: Brian McNamee says he injected Roger Clemens with drugs at the Yankee Stadium hot tub and that among the needles he gave government investigators was one he used to inject the pitcher in 2001.
•Attorneys take a step back : Attorney General Eric Holder has recused himself from any role in deciding whether to charge Roger Clemens with lying to Congress about steroids. Before becoming attorney general, Holder worked at the firm Covington and Burling LLC, which had Clemens as a client.
Lanny Breuer, who represented Clemens while working for Covington, has since been nominated to become a top deputy of Holder’s and is also expected to recuse himself from the matter.
•MLB will look into prospects’ ages: Major League Baseball is investigating more than 40 cases involving Dominican Republic prospects suspected of lying about their age upon signing professional contracts.
•Rodriguez’s recovery going well: Alex Rodriguez is pleased with his recovery from arthroscopic hip surgery. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talked with the three-time A.L. MVP Tuesday night and found him in “good spirits.” Rodriguez has been riding a stationary bike and doing range of motion exercises.
Blackhawks clip Canes
At Chicago, Kris Versteeg broke a tie in the fourth round of a shootout and the Chicago Blackhawks beat Carolina 3-2 to end the Hurricanes’ winning streak at four games.
•Ducks skate past Canucks in OT: Scott Niedermayer scored at 3:37 of overtime, and the Anaheim Ducks got vital contributions from newcomers Erik Christensen, Ryan Whitney and Petteri Nokelainen to beat Vancouver 4-3 in Anaheim, Calif.
•General managers talk finances: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he expects the salary cap to be “about where it was this year” for next season, but there’s more uncertainty about 2010-11.
The collective bargaining agreement, reached after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, is set to expire in 2011. Players could vote to extend it for another year.
Seattle to host MLS Cup
The home of the expansion Seattle Sounders was chosen by Major League Soccer to host this year’s MLS Cup. The championship game of the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada will be played Nov. 22 at Qwest Field.
•Portland makes MLS bid: The City Council has approved financing $60 million to lure a Major League Soccer franchise to Portland. The $60 million would go to renovating PGE Park to meet MLS specifications and building a new ballpark for the Portland Beavers, the city’s Triple-A baseball team.
• U.S. women fall to Sweden: Heather Mitts hit a post with her seventh-round shot, and Sweden defeated the United States 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 tie Wednesday night in the final of the Algarve Cup women’s soccer tournament.
BCS extends agreements
The Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls extended their agreements with the Bowl Championship Series, deals that will keep the football national championship game at the sites of those games through the 2013 college football season.
•Florida State to appeal sanctions: Florida State plans to formally respond next week to sanctions from the NCAA resulting from an academic cheating scandal.
The school is expected to challenge the NCAA’s directive to forfeit up to 14 football victories as well as wins in other sports for contests where athletes involved in a classroom cheating scandal participated.
•WAC ponders move to Las Vegas: The Western Athletic Conference will consider moving the league’s postseason basketball tournament to Las Vegas in the future based partly on some schools’ desire to play at a neutral site.
New league, old coaches
Former NFL coaches Dennis Green, Jim Fassel and Jim Haslett will lead teams in the new United Football League. The league plans to debut in October with four teams in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando and New York.
•Vancouver makes travel plans : Olympic organizers released a wide-ranging transportation plan designed to keep cars off the road during the 2010 Games through street closures, lane reductions and a reliance on public transit.